This week's upcoming episode of Game of Thrones may not have a synopsis, but it does have a title: "Eastwatch." But considering where most of the action has taken place this season -- Winterfell and points south -- it seems a strange title indeed. What exactly does it refer to? And just as importantly, where is Eastwatch on Game of Thrones?
Eastwatch is actually going to be the third location we'll go to this season that we've never been on Game of Thrones. The first two we saw in episode 3, when the show headed to Casterly Rock for the first time, as well as Highgarden. Those are castles that lie on the western most shore of the continent, and in the southern half of the region, which is an area of Westeros the characters hadn't had a chance to go prior to this year.
Eastwatch, on the other hand, lies completely in the other direction. It is on the eastern side of Westeros, and as North as one can go before crossing the the Lands of Always Winter. It is the farthest most edge of the Wall, where it meets the Narrow Sea. That's why in the novels the full name of this keep is "Eastwatch-by-the-Sea."
The Wall In The Show
The above image, taken from HBO's official map of Westeros shows that the Wall has three castles along its mighty face. This is not true in the books, where the Wall actually has nineteen castles stationed along it. But sixteen of them are abandoned by the time our story starts, with only The Shadow Tower, Castle Black and Eastwatch still manned by the Night's Watch.
At first, the show did consider those other castles to exist, as we saw in Season 3, when Bran and company run into Sam and Gilly at the Nightfort, the first garrison to be built in the Wall, where the Lord Commander was once stationed. (It was also the first Castle to be abandoned as the numbers and budget to maintain the Wall dwindled.)
But by Season 4, they'd changed their tune, with only the three above appearing on the map, of which only Castle Black is manned.
The Shadow Tower
The western most point of the Wall in the show is the keep known as the Shadow Tower, which is referenced a lot in the books, but never seen. It is basically where the Wall runs into the mountain range known as the Frostfangs, that runs along the edge of the Lands of Always Winter. (In the books, there is a keep farther to the west, Westwatch-by-the-Bridge, but it is abandoned.)
If you're wondering if wildlings can go around, you'd be right -- the first time we hear about this keep, the Commander of it, Ser Denys Mallister, has sent a raven noting that the amount of wildlings making this incredibly dangerous passage has increased exponentially.
Eastwatch lies far at the other end of the Wall, running directly into the sea, making slipping around it far more dangerous unless you're a good sailor. In the books, it is fully manned, with several ships stationed there as well.
Book readers have already been to Eastwatch, as that's where Sam sails from on his way to Oldtown. It's also referenced heavily when Grenn and Pip are sent to rescue the wildlings at Hardhome. (In the books, Jon does not go.) The show has obviously made some changes. With Castle Black the only station that's manned, Jon has to send someone to garrison the eastern most point, which he does at the beginning of this season with Tormund and the wildlings, making them defacto Night's Watch.
We've also had the Hound see Eastwatch in his vision in the flames, which suggests that the Brotherhood Without Banners is headed in that direction. In this week's trailer, Jon announces that Bran has seen the Night King also headed for Eastwatch. With the cut line from the Hound's vision saying he sees "frozen waves" there are quite a few theories that the plan is for the Night King to make an landbridge of ice and walk around the Wall.
Will Jon decide it's not worth staying in Dragonstone, and head north with his newly made dragonglass weapons to make a stand against the Army of the Dead, before they can cross the Wall? The preshow trailers showed many shots of Jon leading an army against the Night King, somewhere beyond the Wall again.
Will Eastwatch be the location of Hardhome Part 2? Will Dany send troops to help him in his cause? And can Jon somehow make it so this time it's not a massacre?